A Year-End Look at Retail
Opinion: In many ways, 2004 will be seen as a technological turning point for retail: the year that many technologies that have been hyped for years started to become real.In many ways, 2004 will be seen as a technological turning point for retail: the year that many technologies that have been hyped for years started to become real. Traditionally, retail has always been a mixed barcode for being technologically advanced. The largest retail giantssuch as Wal-Martare among the most advanced companies in the world and are widely viewed as being on the cutting edge: companies that deploy technologies while other industries sit back and watch. At the same time, the overwhelming majority98.8 percent, according to Microsoftof all retailers are tiny, even by small business standards of fewer than 100 employees. That 98.8 percent figure refers to single-store retailers.
Talk about your hype. RFID has been talked about for many years, but it took the strong-arm tactics of Wal-Mart to push suppliers to take it seriously. January 2005 was never intended to be a true deadline, but it served its purpose: to get people to truly start working on getting RFID up and running. If nothing else, its provided plenty of jobs for people who make tools to help retailers co-exist with barcode and RFID during what the retailer expected to be a very lengthy transition. RFID was beset with plenty of well-vocalized concerns about privacy, but the systems inability to function consistently under ideal conditions made such fears seem overblown. Heres a short list of stories on how RFID influenced the retail scene:
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